An Introduction to Life Inside Universal Credit’s Nerve Centre

Hi everybody,

My name is Bayard, I am a former telephony agent from Universal Credit. I was an employee there for two years and my duties consisted of answering queries, calculating and issuing payments, handling complaints and requests for reconsiderations, booking appointments, issuing advances, and quite a few other things. 

Our responsibilities on telephony evolved over the time I was there, from times where it was just our job to make the case manager aware that a claimant had called in (called a “handover”) to times where we followed a “once-and-done” process of dealing with every action on a claim.

There were times where different service centres, and even different teams within the same service centre, had different roles and responsibilities and different tasks that they could complete. Sometimes this was by design (some teams could calculate deductions, others couldn’t) and sometimes it was purely because we had been told different things and had different understandings of how the processes worked.

I’m really grateful to Alex for the opportunity to share my experiences and insights on this blog and I hope that it is able to help people who are struggling through the system.

There are a lot of gaps, flaws, IT issues and loopholes in Universal Credit, and I believe it goes a lot deeper than even claimants realise. I believe these problems are being brushed under the carpet, and that they’re being excused under the farcical “test-and-learn” approach.

Every service centre gets different guidance on when to escalate issues, issue advances, what to pay and when, and even aside from that there are processes in place that guarantee significant hardship for claimants, from the payment schedule, to the way we verify rent, to the Habitual Residency Test. 

Obviously Universal Credit is constantly changing, and I can only write about the processes as they were when I left three weeks ago, but many of the things I hope to shed light on are core elements of Universal Credit which I believe are unlikely to change. 

I hope to shed some light on some of these processes on this blog and look forward to hopefully helping claimants get the most out of a broken system as well as helping those with the authority to understand why an inquiry or review of some sort is needed desperately to prevent immense damage.

Thank you for reading, and please let me know if there is any specific aspect of Universal Credit that you would like me to focus on.

You can follow me on Twitter, @BayardTarpley.